Desert Blooms and Desert Moons

Southern Arizona didn’t have a winter. I can vouch that it got off track and landed over in Central Texas instead! The windfall that I am now enjoying after scraping icicles off my overhead and keeping vigil over my freezing plumbing for three months?  The desert is in bloom early!IMG_1628IMG_1616IMG_1633

I am told desert cactus don’t typically bloom until later in the spring, especially the Saguaro, who’s illusive blooms don’t show up until late in April. The beautiful white blooms begin opening during the late evening, and only stay on the cactus for less than 24 hours.  So I feel very fortunate in my timing…IMG_1699 IMG_1622 IMG_1788

This year with the lack of winter in Southern Arizona, I somehow managed to arrive during that short window between soaring temperatures and buds popping out in all varieties.  I thought the desert would be boring, but instead it’s looking more like an unexpected visit to the botanical garden.IMG_1741  IMG_1770IMG_1689

I took three ranger-guided hikes while I was in Saguaro National Park. I don’t typically like hiking with a group, but these three hikes are reoccurring monthly events held during the three nights leading up to the full moon. They all leave in late evening, hike to some saddle or ridge to watch the sunset, and then return through the desert by the light of the moon.


Bob, a local Naturalist Volunteer comes along with us on the hike. Here, he shows a cross-section of a saguaro.

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I would never have the nerve to hike an unfamiliar trail after dark, so these hikes afforded me the opportunity to be in the middle of the desert in full flooded moonlight. And being the end of season, they were relatively uncrowded.


Waiting for sunset from the saddle with the hiking group.

These were “no flashlight required” hikes, as part of the mystique was the moon shadows cast by the giant saguaro. Another magical experience, and a rare treat and utter delight for this solo hiker, otherwise too chicken to hike on anything bigger than the paved “Interpretive Trail” after dark!

"I fear something has come between us."

“I fear something has come between us.”

How fortuitous that the “Blood Moon” would also appear while I was camped in the desert. I sat out in my camp chair under a blanket and watched the entire eclipse, though most of the time was spent futzing with three different cameras trying to get a shot. I had two P&S cameras, a Nikon SLR, and a teeny tripod, and I couldn’t get any of the three to cooperate. So I just had to sit back with a glass of red and watch the show…..and a “Bloody Good Show” it was, too.

As good as it got where my three cameras were concerned.

As good as it got where my three cameras were concerned.

Also ironic that the “Blood Moon” would come on the same day the IRS was also looking for blood. I never changed my withholding amount since I sold my “sticks and bricks,” so with no mortgage deduction, Uncle Sam wanted blood from more than just the moon. It was the first time I have done my own taxes in 20+ years, compounded by the complexity of filing from the road with no printer. My company sends a W2 for my Health Savings Account with no wage amount, which precludes me from filing online. So I had to come down from the mountain and find an OfficeMax so I could finish filing in the parking lot. Not only was my wallet lighter, but so was my stress level when I finally dropped that fat envelop into the Tucson Post Office! :::sigh!::: 

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

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9 thoughts on “Desert Blooms and Desert Moons

  1. Gorgeous pictures, Suzanne… and indeed you did! get there at the right time! ANd in the desert with a clear view of the blood moon… you got good karma, kiddo…

    hiss on the taxes … BUt they’re done for another year… I do wish we the people could fix that nonsense… a federal tax ~ like state tax and be done with it. No need to kill trees for the volumes of paperwork … no stress … no nothing.

    If you make $10 … then give the government whatever percentage… 1.5%? ha

    gorgeous gorgeous photography … I have never seen the desert in bloom… maybe because I don’t look … well? I did enjoy the cacti … I really did … they are like clouds … all manner of characters can be found inem… 😉

  2. The blooms are spectacular…. or better!
    Nice shooting no matter which camera you used. Your timing is perfect….enjoy “the boring desert.”
    Death and taxes, you know…and I took that sunset moonrise hike too !!!
    Box Canyon…

  3. Me too about the wallet, the stress and the IRS. But boy did you hit the jackpot. What a great place to be at the exact right time not only for those gorgeous blooms but for the full moon. Right now I just want to be you – with your taxes already paid of course.

  4. Man, them is some pretty amazing Moons and Blooms! I now see the virtues of visiting the desert after winter snowbird season has ended. So much more color to see in late Spring! How lucky you were to see a saguaro bloom as!

    Well, keep putting up with those hot temps a little while longer and enjoy all those beautiful colors!

  5. Love the flowers. When we went to AZ we were captivated, especially Deede, by the beautiful desert flowers. I drove for miles looking for a good photo of a Saguaro blossom. I saw plenty, but my angle and camera did not allow me to get as good as you have. Being a native of the north east it seemed a bit strange to see such beauty on cacti in the desert.
    Keep on taking the beautiful pictures, we love them.
    Allen and Deede

  6. What amazing photos of the blooms. We love night hikes. Some intentional, but often from wandering a little too much and ending up walking back on some trail in the dark. I now ALWAYS carry a flashlight with me just in case. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Carolyn — Thanks for the comment. I agree about the tax percentage, especially after experiencing the disparity of what I pay now versus how much less I paid when I owed a stack of money to the mortgage company! Not fair that they penalize the “debt free!”

    Barb — Thank you so much for the nice compliment! I did fall in love with the many colors of that “bloomin’ desert!”

    BC Mark — Thanks for the nice compliment. I think your “claret cup” postcard from a year or so ago was my first indication that maybe there was more than just green and brown out there. 😉

    Sherry — Don’t want to be me! (I am chained to the desk with a beautiful lake behind me!) Instead, want to be my neighbor! Come on out!!

    Lynne — Maybe a stop on the way back from the Isla next year would be perfect timing?

    Dave — Thanks so much for the nice compliment, and for continuing to follow the blog!

    Allen and Deede — Thanks always for following, and for the nice comments. I was so lucky to see that bloom on a down-turned “arm.” It was alongside the turnoff for the scenic drive. I had no idea they were so short-lived, as it was gone the next day, making me realize how fortunate I was to see it!

    Karen in NM — Thanks so much for commenting! Yes, I think I need to get in the habit of sticking a flashlight in the pack, instead of running out thinking I will be back before dark and having to miss a great sunset!

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